Plumbing, Business Tips, Industry Insights

How to Grow Your Plumbing Business in 2023 | The Ultimate Guide

October 4th, 2022
18 Min Read

In this guide to growing your plumbing business and creating a plumbing contracting business plan, ServiceTitan helps you position your plumbing company to grow and adapt as the home and commercial industry changes. Learn plumbing business tips, plumbing marketing ideas, and everything in between from industry experts who built their own multimillion-dollar contractor companies.

Below, we’ll cover the following tips on how to grow your plumbing business:

ServiceTitan’s marketing and operations management software has powered the growth of thousands of plumbing businesses. Find out more about how our features can drive the growth of your plumbing company by scheduling a personalized demo.

Put Together a Plumbing Business Plan Focused on the Plumbing Business You Want to Become

  • Find a mentor who’s doing what you want to do.

  • Shadow your mentor on the job; ask for plumbing business tips.

  • Go find 10 more mentors, and do it all over again.

  • Listen to plumbing podcasts for tips and inspiration.

  • Read books on how to grow a plumbing business.

Tommy Mello, The Home Service Expert, says he wished someone had told him about finding a mentor and emulating their best business practices when he started his own garage-door business over 15 years ago.

“You’ve got to act like the business you want to become, and I didn’t know that back then,” says Mello, owner of A1 Garage Door Service, which topped $30 million in revenue last year.

“If I would have listened to a mentor tell me, ‘This is why you shouldn’t do this,’ or ‘This is why you should,’ it would have definitely fast-forwarded the business.”

Find a role model who’s doing what you want to do. Shadow them on the job. Ask tons of questions. Then go find 10 more mentors, Mello advises, and do it all over again.

John Akhoian also knows how to run a successful plumbing business. He took a one-truck plumbing operation and turned it into 10 Rooter Hero Plumbing locations in California and Arizona, with more than 250 trucks and $50 million in earnings per year.

“It’s about being great at a few things, instead of trying to be a master of many things,” Akhoian says.

To grow plumbing businesses, Akhoian suggests listening to plumbing podcasts or reading books written by industry experts for insight on plumbing business profitability, plumbing marketing ideas, and more. He wrote three books himself: The Secret to WealthCreating 99 Millionaires and Values First.

Akhoian says the first book describes how working in the trades was his “Plan B,” but he found wealth and success. The second one details the right path to follow to create your own personal wealth in the trades, and the third book shows the importance of establishing core values for your company to follow.

“All of the books are designed to help the trade in one way or another,” Akhoian says.

To find out more about Akhoian’s experiences, listen to our interview with him.

Boost Plumbing Profits by Investing Time and Money in Recruiting and Training Qualified Plumbers

  • Build a strong company foundation.

  • Outline a fully developed organizational chart.

  • Recruit constantly and establish a thorough interviewing process.

  • Provide extensive training for every employee.

  • Offer performance-related pay as an incentive to grow.

Plumbing business owners, like others in the skilled trades, struggle to find qualified employees in a highly competitive climate. They also worry about investing time and money in training, only to see those plumbing service techs leave to go off on their own or work for another company.

Focus instead on building a strong company foundation with a fully developed organizational chart, Mello says. That means creating clear job descriptions and expectations for every position, providing extensive training to set up every employee for success, and using performance pay as an incentive to help employees grow.

“Some people say ‘always be closing.’ I say, ‘always be recruiting,’” says Mello, who gives employees a $1,500 bonus payment for referring a new hire.

“I think a lot of us just don’t start the business right,” he adds. “Give it such a strong foundation, there’s nowhere to grow but up.”

Akhoian learned the plumbing trade by working as an apprentice for a family friend. He later offered the same opportunity to a relative and hired his own wife to manage the office.

While working with family helped to build a strong foundation for the company, Akhoian says establishing five core values — Faith, Integrity, Respect, Service, and Teamwork — guides his interviewing process and hiring best practices.

“When I’m interviewing somebody...I introduce the values early on. One of the questions I like is, ‘What do you like most about your current job? What’s your favorite value there, and why?’ And we talk about it.”

“It just gives me a good perspective of where they’re coming from,” Akhoian adds. “We don’t look at the values as a deal breaker...we try to bring people in and see if we can instill those values to help people better their lives.”

Start by Building a Great Company Culture 

  • Value your company’s No. 1 asset: Your employees.

  • Invest as much time in recruiting and training as you do on plumbing sales.

  • Engage potential applicants with a video showing a behind-the-scenes look at your company’s culture.

  • Share your team’s success stories regularly to motivate and inspire everyone.

Happy employees typically are more productive employees, no matter the industry. Give your plumbing staff more than just a steady paycheck by building acompany culture that really shows them how much you value their work. This alone will attract a raft of new applicants.

Trades consultant Ben Stark advises keeping techs and other employees involved in the process and making sure they know what role they play in growing your plumbing company. Let them own a piece of it, and you’ll likely get complete buy-in.

“Employees are your No. 1 asset,” he says.

When crises or setbacks occur in the contractor services industry, don’t stop hiring for your company or marketing to new customers.

“Resist the reactionary,” Stark advises. “I’ve gone through a recession, a crisis…we put on the accelerator (for marketing and hiring), and we have always come out on the positive side.”

Employees who feel valued also work harder, says Tom Howard, ServiceTitan’s Vice President of Customer Experience and owner of multiple service businesses. He thinks plumbing companies need to spend as much time attracting and retaining employees as they do trying to sell plumbing services to new or existing customers.

To market the company culture at Lee’s Air, a leading HVAC and plumbing service provider he owns in Fresno, CA, Howard created a low-budget YouTube video using a cellphone camera to give a behind-the-scenes peek into their unique workplace environment. It ultimately brought new talent to his door and boosted the company’s bottom line.

Mello looks for success stories and shares them with the entire company, instead of only focusing on the poor performers.

“I always call the guys who are winning,” Mello says. “Some of them have a breakthrough or one will have the best day ever. Those are the things I love hearing. I learn it, then I share it. I’m kind of an encyclopedia of everybody’s great story.”

Mello also uses ServiceTitan’s reporting data to boost his team’s spirits with what he calls a “morning mojo call” every Thursday. It often highlights the top-performing tech’s work for the past week and shows other employees how to find the same success.

Grow Your Business with Systems, Checks and Balances

  • Create a well-defined operating system that includes an organizational chart and operating manuals.

  • Include checks and balances for each department to ensure accountability.

  • Automate with field-service software for better efficiency.

  • Control and track inventory with custom reporting in real time.

Tips on how to run a successful plumbing business typically start with creating a well-defined operating system. This includes checks and balances for every department, such as comparing your CSR booking rates to actual jobs completed by your plumbers, or comparing inventory controls to parts used on each job.

Mello says Art Levi, The 7-Power Contractor author and trade services expert, taught him the importance of establishing a good system for running his garage-door business.

An in-depth organization chart clearly defines each employee’s role, the management hierarchy allows only five direct reports to any one manager, and various operating manuals outline proper procedures for just about everything.

It’s a recipe for success, Mello says, and one used by big players in many other industries.

How ServiceTitan Gives Plumbing Teams Simple Processes and Systems to Follow

Plumbing companies that start using ServiceTitan get a simple and easy-to-follow way to implement systems and processes for the following areas of their company’s workflow:

  • Call booking: ServiceTitan’s call booking software identifies returning customers so CSRs can greet them by name and access a full job history, contact details, and property details when they take a call. This also gives them a chance to ask the customer about how previous plumbing services are performing and if any further work is needed. ServiceTitan’s booking tool uses a drop-down menu system to help customer service reps collect all the details they need before sending a plumber out to the job. This helps the CSR focus on talking to the customer instead of being distracted by opening multiple screens or searching for the right field to write down job notes. This improves customer experience and satisfaction on the call — as well as during the appointment — because plumbers have all the information they need to arrive fully prepared and to do the job correctly.

  • Documents saved to the cloud: To make all of your business documents available across your organization and from any location, ServiceTitan stores all documents in the cloud. Any team member with the right permissions can access these documents from anywhere on their mobile device. Plumbers out on a job can look up job notes, appointment details, listen to a recording of the call made by the customer, as well as have access to previous estimates, invoices, and more. Using ServiceTitan Mobile, they get access to all these documents in the cloud and can always be certain they’re viewing the latest version.

  • Custom form creation: Plumbers and managers using ServiceTitan can build custom forms to use while out on a job. You set triggers for forms to appear on the tech dashboard as each previous step is completed, making processes consistent and reducing errors. By requiring each form to be filled out before moving on to the next step, plumbers make fewer mistakes and don’t need to call customers to provide additional information.

  • Templates for each step of every plumbing job: ServiceTitan’s templates give plumbers a framework to slot in customer specific details to present proposals, estimates, pricing options, invoices, and more. The templates are designed to be easy to use and are a professional way of presenting all customer documents along with your business branding. Each document created with our templates can be presented to customers on a mobile device, such as a tablet, or sent to them by email.

How ServiceTitan Helped One Plumbing Business Grow to Over $14 Million in Annual Revenue

Travis Ringe, co-owner of ProSkill Plumbing, Heating & Air in Arizona, says ServiceTitan was a complete “game-changer” for his business.

“ServiceTitan is as important to our company as the tools and the trucks we use every day to accomplish the job,” Ringe says. “It’s what helped drive our company to where it is today.”

The software allowed his techs to go paperless, provide better customer service, and ultimately increase average tickets and conversions. ProSkill started as a one-truck plumbing company in 2009, and now operates with more than 50 trucks, bringing in over $14 million in annual revenue. 

Focus on Getting Your Current Plumbing Business Running Smoothly Before You Expand

  • Master your own plumbing business before buying another.

  • Build your business to succeed without you.

  • Narrow your focus to what you do best and shed the rest.

Are you a plumbing business owner who thinks they can do it all? Do you want to expand into other contractor services as soon as possible? Or are you considering buying out a plumbing business operating in another area? Be careful not to spread yourself too thin.

Mello tried doing it all, from operating his warehouse and controlling inventory to buying all of his own trucks and fixing them on-site when they broke down. When his expenses exceeded revenue, he decided it was time to rein in some of his entrepreneurial activities.

“I just realized focus is everything,” Mello says. “Instead of being a jack-of-all-trades, you want to be a master of one… Focus on one, get so big at one, then you can take on a new branch.”

Akhoian says Rooter Hero Plumbing shifted from providing commercial plumbing to only residential plumbing services several years ago.

“We wanted to be really good at one thing, and that one thing back then was residential,” he says. “That’s where I saw the biggest opportunity.”

Narrowing your business focus helps it grow, Akhoian says.

“I’ve always tried to be great at a few things, instead of trying to do everything,” he says.Think in terms of building your business as a commodity with shareholder value — and one that’s able to operate efficiently, even when you’re not around.

“A business that depends on you to work is not a business I want to buy,” says Mello, who is also an owner, partner, or investor in 14 other businesses. 

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Plumbing Marketing Ideas to Reach the Right Audience

Before deploying any type of marketing strategy, a plumbing business needs to know how to target the right audience.

A plumber who thinks his customers are “anyone with plumbing” should be more strategic, Mello says. You should know specifics about your target customer: “This is the age, this is the gender, this is the average household income, this is their credit score.’ You should know more and more about who your real customers are, and then you focus on direct response… and branding.”

Knowing the best marketing tactics to deploy poses one of the biggest challenges for the home and commercial services industry, Stark says.

“You used to depend on the phone book or direct mail advertising or newspaper advertising,” he says. “In recent years, multimedia internet and digital communications...has really opened up so many different levels to choose from.”

Akhoian likes to think outside the box with Rooter Hero’s marketing efforts.

For instance, he instructed his entire Rooter Hero team to leave a business card (with a coupon on the back) each time they visited a public restroom in restaurants, bars, etc.

“You just turn it around and leave it on the urinal. There’s a flush valve on the stick the card between the flush valve and the urinal, and it’s always there,” he explains.

Those unconventional marketing efforts not only attracted new customers, he says, but also enticed other service workers to consider plumbing as a viable career option.

How ServiceTitan Drives Your Plumbing Marketing Strategy

ServiceTitan’s Marketing Pro is a comprehensive add-on software solution that boosts your plumbing marketing strategies, making use of your customer data to bring in more valuable leads and bookings to your plumbing business.

Email Marketing for Plumbers with ServiceTitan

Targeted email marketing also works as a cost-effective strategy for keeping your brand front and center in the minds of customers, says Megan Bedford, who runs Mugyver Consulting to help small companies in the trades.

Not only is the cost cheaper for targeted email marketing — $12 or less per lead — it’s the type of communication customers prefer, as opposed to direct mail or a promotional text. The key, Bedford says, is to find the right tool to automate the process, then target the right audience with the right message.

ServiceTitan’s Marketing Pro gives you tools to manage the email marketing strategy for your plumbing business and helps you identify specific customer profiles that best match your offer or deal. By sending out targeted emails to the customers who are most likely to respond, you increase the effectiveness of your email marketing campaign.

When customers fail (or forget) to respond to plumbing estimates, for example, you can identify them as a group and send a reminder email with a specific number to call to book the job.

You can also send reminders to every customer in your database reminding them to carry out regular maintenance of plumbing systems that you previously installed. These emails often regenerate old leads and turn silent customers into new sources of revenue for your business.

Our email marketing tool gives you a range of email templates (see the image above) so you can design a campaign quickly and send out emails without a designer.You simply select the design you want, adapt the customizable text, and send it out to your targeted customer list.

You can also check on the performance of each of your email marketing campaigns, as ServiceTitan tracks the exact ROI of every email within the dashboard.

Our detailed tracking makes it easy to assess which emails generate plumbing leads, and which need to be improved for better success rates.

ServiceTitan Marketing Pro Brings in $6K in 24 Hours for One Plumbing Company

Travis Ringe says ServiceTitan Marketing Pro helped ProSkill Plumbing, Heating & Air leverage its customer database to deliver hyper-targeted email marketing campaigns.

“Our first campaign returned $6,000 in revenue in 24 hours, which was fantastic!” he says.

Manage Direct Mail Campaigns with ServiceTitan

Direct mail campaigns are still a powerful way to get your message right into the customer’s hands, Stark adds, but he’s also finding new ways to do creative marketing through various digital media channels.

“Marketing is such a beast these days. It's so multi-layered that you’ve got to always be looking for ways to get your name out there, however it may be,” Stark says.

ServiceTitan also helps plumbing businesses manage direct mail campaigns. We give you tools to quickly design, print, mail, and track the performance of every one of your direct mail campaigns. Simply choose a postcard design from our huge library and change the text to adapt it to your own campaign. You then select the profile of the customers you want to receive it, submit for printing, and mail it. 

Every direct mail campaign designed using ServiceTitan costs a single flat-rate for every postcard you send, so it's always clear exactly how much you’ll be spending on each mailing. 

Similar to our email marketing tool, you can assign a phone number to each direct mail campaign, which helps you keep track of your ROI and figure out which campaigns perform the best.

Focus Your Online Plumbing Marketing Strategies

Post helpful plumbing content to boost Search Engine Optimization (SEO) on Google.

  • Invest in Pay-Per-Click advertising to increase brand awareness.

  • Incentivize techs to get more reviews.

  • Expand your service area in conjunction with Google Local Services.

“Just understand Google is God when it comes to home service,” Mello says, explaining how both homeowners and commercial consumers find 70 percent of all services online through Google searches. 

“Half of your marketing dollars should be spent on SEO, PPC, Google My Business, getting reviews, and Google Local Services.”

Marketing via Facebook also works for some plumbing companies, he says, but it’s hard to make a ton of money on the social media platform.

“Facebook is more of an upside-down pyramid,” Mello explains. “The way I do Facebook is you’ve got a lot of customers at the top who really don’t know about your service or they don’t need it today, but you’re building a funnel. It's at the top of the pyramid, but it’s an upside-down pyramid.”

Some customers will find you because they need your services today, whereas others may find you through brand awareness.“They call it ‘top-of-mind awareness.’ You’re starting to get that online reputation of ‘Hey, I’ve seen that company before, now I need them.’ Now, they’re going to think of you,” Mello says.

How ServiceTitan Helps Boost Your Online Presence

To advertise your plumbing service online for your local area, ServiceTitan integrates with Google Local Services. Potential customers can then click on your Google Local Services ad to go right to your job booking page, where they can use the ServiceTitan web booking widget to book and immediately confirm a job with you, without having to find your phone number or take up any of your reps’ time with lengthy calls.

When a potential customer searches for “Plumbing Service Boston,” for example, your Local Services ad appears at the top of the search results in Google. The customer then clicks on your ad to book an appointment with you in real time and doesn’t need to wait for a confirmation email.

To make sure your marketing and advertising budget is being used appropriately, you can also track ROI on your Google ad campaigns using ServiceTitan’s Marketing Pro.

Connect your Google Ads and Google Analytics accounts to ServiceTitan to track the ROI of your campaigns to the actual jobs booked and the revenue that was generated from those jobs. Real ROI figures can help you decide which ads to invest in further, and which ones to shut down.

However, don’t make the mistake of focusing only on digital platforms for your plumbing advertising ideas, Akhoian says.

Personal relationship-building tactics, such as knocking on doors, introducing yourself to potential commercial and home customers and leaving a business card for future plumbing needs, still work in today’s digital world.

“Those tactics are still applicable, and I think they still work,” Akhoian says. “A lot of people rely too much on digital and don’t do it. I think that’s wrong, and we need to continue to do it.”

Grow Your Plumbing Business with the Best Field Service Management Software

One of the easiest ways of acting on all the tips we’ve provided in this article is to use ServiceTitan’s field management software. Our platform helps you grow your plumbing business by providing tools that improve your operating processes and workflow by:

  • Providing you with reliable tools for team communication. Office staff can easily communicate with plumbers in the field — streamlining workflow and improving job satisfaction (along with company culture).

  • Helping your business put processes, systems, and templates in place for consistent and error-free services.

  • Giving you tools to manage digital advertising, email marketing, and direct mail campaigns, as well as tracking ROI — so you know what is working, and what needs to be changed. 

Want to Grow Your Plumbing Business? Know Your “Why”

  • Identify your own strengths.

  • Don’t become a plumbing business owner just because you want to be your own boss.

  • Keep work-life balance in focus.

  • Understand the financial aspect of running a plumbing business (or find someone who does).

Work-life balance is a phrase that gets thrown around a lot, but Mello thinks it’s something to keep in mind when pondering whether to start your own plumbing business, grow your current one, or expand into other services.

He recommends reading the book, Off Balance on Purpose: Embrace Uncertainty and Create a Life You Love, by Dan Thurmon to gain a better perspective, especially in this time of great uncertainty.

“The reason you should own a business is NOT because you don’t want to work for someone else,” Mello says. You may exhibit excellent plumbing technician skills in the field, but lack the financial knowledge or expertise in managing a plumbing business.

“I feel bad for a lot of people, they have no business owning a business,” he says. “They better start to learn and get some mentors, or maybe it’s not for them.”

Some companies hit a certain revenue milestone and decide that’s as far as they want to go, because their life is a mess and they’re under stress.

“I feel like I’m just getting started...I literally feel like it’s there to build, it’s ours for the taking,” Mello says. “For me, success just means if I want to go do something, I do it.”

“You’ve got to choose what’s important to you and decide what’s your ‘Why?’”

The family friend whom Akhoian apprenticed for had no interest in growing beyond a one-truck plumbing company. That’s OK, he says. It simply inspired Akhoian to start his own plumbing company, and today he’s focused on opening four new Rooter Hero Plumbing locations.

In a recent acquisition, Rooter Hero bought a smaller $3 million company whose owner was good at doing installs but hated the administrative side of the business.

“When we acquired it, we gave him the role of just doing installs, and we hired some people to take care of all of the other parts of the business,” Akhoian says. “We believe we’re going to be able to grow it by four or five times, at least.”

He wakes up every day thinking about how to keep the needle moving forward.

“I’ve always wanted to see how much I could grow,” Akhoian says. “Our goal is to become a nationwide company.”

ServiceTitan has helped thousands of plumbing businesses grow by giving them tools to manage both marketing and operations. You can discover more about how these features would help your plumbing business by scheduling a demo.

ServiceTitan Plumbing Software

ServiceTitan is a comprehensive plumbing business software solution built specifically to help service companies streamline their operations, boost revenue, and achieve growth. Our award-winning, cloud-based platform is trusted by more than 100,000+ contractors across the country.

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